Meet Lilly, Thailand’s Greta Thunberg
She’s 12-year-old bubbly petite girl. But she’s at war, with plastic.
Lilly (aka Ralyn Satidtanasarn) has made it her mission to reduce the use of plastic in Thailand, where the average person uses eight plastic bags every single day. It is also the sixth largest global contributor to ocean pollution. Whether it’s for wrapping up street food, takeaway coffees or for groceries, Thais use 3,000 single use bags per year — 12 times more than someone from the European Union.
In June, Lilly won her first victory: she persuaded Central, a major supermarket in Bangkok, to stop giving out plastic bags in its stores once a week.
“I told myself that if the government did not listen to me, it would be necessary to speak directly to those who distribute plastic bags and convince them to stop,” she explains.
This month some of the biggest brands, including the operator of the 7-Eleven convenience stores, pledged to stop handing out single-use plastic bags by January next year.
Mindsets have started to shift this year with the deaths of several marine mammals whose stomachs were lined with plastic, stirring emotions.
The US-Thai youngster started campaigning at the age of eight after a seaside vacation in southern Thailand where she was horrified by a beach covered in rubbish.
“We cleaned up with my parents, but that was not helpful because other waste was thrown out by the sea the next day,” she recalls.
Then came the global movement initiated by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has become a key face in the battle against global warming.
Inspired by the young Swede, Lilly did sit-ins in front of the Thai government buildings.
“Greta Thunberg gave me confidence. When adults do not do anything, it’s up to us children to act,” she insists.
Even if she sometimes wants to take a break and “go play” like other kids, she also takes part in cleaning sessions organised by local association Trash Hero.